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Sclerotinia sclerotiorum utilizes host-derived copper for ROS detoxification and infection

by Yijuan Ding, Jiaqin Mei, Yaru Chai, Wenjing Yang, Yi Mao, Baoqin Yan, Yang Yu, Joseph Onwusemu Disi, Kusum Rana, Jiana Li, Wei Qian

Necrotrophic plant pathogen induces host reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, which leads to necrosis in the host, allowing the pathogen to absorb nutrients from the dead tissues. Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is a typical necrotrophic pathogen that causes Sclerotinia stem rot in more than 400 species, resulting in serious economic losses. Here, we found that three S. sclerotiorum genes involved in copper ion import/transport, SsCTR1, SsCCS and SsATX1, were significantly up-regulated during infection of Brassica oleracea. Function analysis revealed that these genes involved in fungal ROS detoxification and virulence. On the host side, four genes putatively involved in copper ion homeostasis, BolCCS, BolCCH, BolMT2A and BolDRT112, were significantly down-regulated in susceptible B. oleracea, but stably expressed in resistant B. oleracea during infection. Their homologs were found to promote resistance to S. sclerotiorum and increase antioxidant activity in Arabidopsis thaliana. Furthermore, copper concentration analysis indicated that copper flow from healthy area into the necrotic area during infection. A model was proposed that S. sclerotiorum utilizes host copper to detoxify ROS in its cells, whereas the resistant hosts may restrict the supply of essential copper nutrients to S. sclerotiorum by maintaining copper ion homeostasis during infection.

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